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So Cute You Could Pukulele

August 10, 2016
by Zoe Crawley '18

This summer I attended Frets and Refrains, a guitar and songwriting camp, on the Zoe Klimley Scholarship. This week-long camp was led by Richard Thompson, as well as many members of his talented family and other amazing teachers. I was able to take classes with writers and performers such as Jill Sobule, Happy Traum, Teddy Thompson, as well as a daily master class with Richard Thompson.

I took a fingerpicking class from Happy Traum, who has been playing guitar since he was a high school student when he started hanging out in Washington Square in the early ’60s. He taught me some techniques I’ve been using a lot ever since. I took classes from Teddy Thompson on lyrics one day, and on melody another. In one class, Jill Sobule asked us to try writing a song lyric from another point of view—someone older, younger, or a different gender—so I wrote a lyric overnight for a mother giving advice to her daughter. The next day Jill gave the lyric to a woman named Robin Bach, who set them to music, so I got to hear my words performed by an actual mom. I also worked on music for someone else’s lyric that day.

There were several open mics and I was able to perform a song on ukulele I wrote with Lily Moriarty '17 last year during the week we were stuck at home after the big snowstorm. The same night, by coincidence, another scholarship winner from Virginia performed a song on a ukulele he’d written during a rainstorm! So we were both given a “So Cute You Could Pukulele Award” as one of the joke awards on the last day.

This was all possible due to the Zoe Klimley Scholarship. This scholarship allows young musicians from the age of 16-25 to attend this camp when they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. After an application process involving personal essays and a video submission, I was awarded this scholarship for the 2016 camp. Not only was I able to learn from amazing teachers, I also met some very talented young people, the other scholarship winners, who inspired me to work harder and improve.